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The Bizarre World Of Wine Lingo

    Cartoon with people around table with wine by Theresa McCracken

    CARTOON BY THERESA (T) MCCRACKEN

    What do legs, barnyard, body, wet dog, dry and bouquet all have in common? They can all be found in a dictionary … and are also used to describe wine.

    Learn some of the wine lingo now so you don’t have to nod in clueless agreement at your next wine tasting.

    wINE lINGO

    aroma

    Specific scents you can pick up after sniffing a glass of wine, such as peach, cherry, or blackberry. The aroma depends heavily on the grapes used.

    DRY

    Not sweet, sometimes on champagne and sparkling wine bottles you will see the word “brut” – it means the same thing.

    VINTAGE

    The year the grapes were harvested. As in “2006 was a great vintage.”

    TANNINS

    Astringency. If you have ever steeped tea too long you know what tannins are.

    balance

    The overall unity of the flavors.

    acidity

    Tartness. Think lemon, lime, grapefruit, blueberries and cranberries.

    barnyard

    A wine that smells like farmyard animals.

    earthy

    A wine that has a distinct dirt like taste.

    appelation

    A geographic region where grapes are grown.

    body

    The fullness, density or weight of a wine in your mouth.

    bouquet

    The overall smell of the wine, usually reserved for older wines that have been aged in oak barrels.

    legs

    The streaks that a wine leaves after swirling it around in your glass. Lighter-bodied wines will have thinner legs that dissipate quickly, while full-bodied wines cling to the inside of the glass.

    wet dog

    An aroma is commonly associated with wine that is corked (aka TCA taint).

    terroir

    Is how a particular region’s climate, soils and aspect (terrain) affect the taste of wine. Some regions are said to have more ‘terroir’ than others.

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